ACTING President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday announced that government will soon intensify its land grab targeting the few remaining white farmers, multiple farm owners and reduce farm sizes as Zanu PF seeks to consolidate its land reform programme and ensure economic stability.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters in his Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe constituency where he was bidding farewell following his elevation to the post of Vice-President, Mnangagwa said after achieving political stability, government’s new thrust was to resuscitate the country’s agro-based economy.
“Now we are focusing on developing our country. Political stability in our country, this, as Zanu PF, we guarantee. Our country is stable. Our country shall continue to be stable. Our challenge as a nation, as a country is to develop and make sure each family has food on the table,” he said.
“This will happen if you are united. No country will develop without eating. The most important thing as Zanu PF is to support agriculture. In the inclusive government, we had boys with no concern to support farming,” he said.
“Those with multiple farms, we will take them, the few whites on farms, we will look into that and those with big farms, we will cut to size,” he said.
Mnangagwa’s remarks came at a time the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), which is largely made up of white former farmers, has expressed scepticism over government’s sincerity regarding partnerships between indigenous and white former commercial farmers.
CFU spokesperson Hendrik Olivier recently told NewsDay that white former farmers were still hesitant to enter into partnerships with locals despite recent assurances by Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora.
“Government’s policies over the last 15 years have been inconsistent and sometimes non-existent. Therefore it remains to be seen if there is a turnaround by the government of Zimbabwe to allow previous landowners to engage in farming activities,” Olivier said.
“Why, on the one hand, make this statement, but, on the other hand, there are some commercial farmers on the land today who are being ordered out of the farms by government officials?” queried Olivier.
He added: “It remains to be seen how sincere the government is and if they do approach farmers.”
On January 4 this year, Mombeshora announced a major policy climbdown, saying government would now allow farming joint ventures between new black farmers and white former commercial farmers.
“Joint ventures can be black to black, black to white, black to yellow or red . . . as long people agree on terms of the contract, but we need to see the contract before it is signed because we want to protect both parties and we encourage fair play, not manipulation of one party by the other,” Mombeshora said.
Earlier, President Robert Mugabe had threatened to deal sternly with indigenous farmers who fronted or partnered white farmers.
He has on several occasions threatened to repossess farms from all resettled farmers working with white former land owners.
In his weekend address, Mnangagwa also said government, through the Ministry of Mines, was working to ensure that those into small-scale mining were assisted.
He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also working on ensuring free visa arrangements with friendly countries including China, Japan, India, Russia and others to boost tourist arrivals into the country.
Turning to Zanu PF internal fights, Mnangagwa described disgruntled members pushing for the nullification of the party’s December congress resolutions as “barking puppies” that would not stop the movement of an elephant.
“Puppies will bark. I told you that Zanu PF is like an elephant that is walking. It will not be stopped by barking dogs, the dogs will bark, but it will move through the homestead until it gets to where it can’t hear the sounds of the barking dogs,” he said.
Former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and other party members who were purged in the run-up to the congress have threatened to take legal action, saying the congress was held unconstitutionally.